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Limitation Periods In Alberta

Limitation periods are also known as a limitation of action. These key dates play a pivotal role in any lawsuit. Failing to meet these deadlines often eliminates your opportunity to sue for damages. Read below for more information on limitation periods. However, if any questions or concerns come up, the litigation lawyers at Kahane Law Office in both Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, assist clients with all matters claims and defenses. Most important, is the establishing of any limitation of action involved. Feel free to email us to see how we help: Email us directly here.

What Is An “Action”?

Another name for an “Action” is a lawsuit, notice of motion or civil claim. For example, an action includes any application to a court or tribunal in order to seek an order or damages.

What Are Limitation Periods?

In Alberta, and most jurisdictions, the government implements laws to restrict how long a person has to sue someone. They do this as to allow people and companies to have certainty regarding future potential claims. In Alberta, the legislation is the Limitations Act. Formerly known as the Limitations of Actions Act, this Act sets the law with regards to how long a person or company has to commence their action. The Limitations Act limits how long you have to file the documents commenting the process to seek a remedy form the courts.

How Long Do You Have To Start A Claim In Alberta

As with many things in law, exemptions apply to limitation periods. Some exemptions appear below as examples. However, the general rule is that a person or company has two years from when they knew or should have known that:

  • An injury occurred;
  • The injury was caused by a specific company or person; and
  • The injury, loss or damage warrants starting an action against that person, assuming that person is liable.

Consequently, since the law uses the word “and”, this means that all three things must occur prior to the starting of the limitation person. If you knew you incurred a loss but it reasonably took a year to find out who caused the problem, that extends the limitation period from when the loss occurred.

An additional limit exists within this law. A “drop dead” date of 10 years from when the claim arose exists. Meaning, if it takes 11 years to know you had a problem or who caused the problem, the action is statute barred.

Clarification Of When Time Starts Counting

The Limitations Act sets specific rules for when the “clock starts ticking”. For example, the following include only some of the subsections of the Act stating clarification. Specifically, that:

  • Claims due to a person breaching a duty to you, starts when the act the person did to breach the duty occurred, or the date that the person or company failed to do something that they should have done.
  • The limitation period for any claim under the Fatal Accidents Act, starts from when the act that caused the death happened, not the date of the death itself.
  • The limitation period starts for claims involving a demand of performance of an obligation, when you first make the demand.

Meaning Of Statute Barred

Statute barred means that a law (legislation) or statute sets a legal limit as to the time allowed to commence an action. The Limitations Act is the statute in most cases. This Act bars the ability to apply to the courts for help. See below for some exemptions.

What Does “Ought To Have Known” Mean?

The legislation creates limitation periods, not just when you knew of a claim, but when you “ought to have known” about a claim. In other words, it includes the time that you should know that someone caused you an injury. This eliminates willful blindness or situations where a person intentionally fails to see if a problem exists. The law looks to see if a reasonable person, in any given circumstances, would have been aware of the problem.

Types Of Losses Covered By Limitation Periods

The Limitations Act covers damages caused by a person or company inclusive of a variety if situations. For example, the types of injuries covered include:

  • Property damage;
  • Personal injury;
  • Non-performance of an obligation;
  • Economic / financial loss; and lastly
  • The breach of a duty (such as duty of care) to you.

Limitation Period Exemptions

Many laws include exceptions.  Exemptions arise via statute or the common law. Limitation periods is no exemption to this exemption rule. For example, the following amends the time frame for limitation of actions in Alberta. Some shorten the time period to commence an action. Conversely, others make the time frame longer. Of note is that these include only examples. Other exemptions apply to certain situations. Always seek out legal advice as soon as you become aware of an injury caused by someone else.

Laws That Shorten Limitation Periods

A major law that reduces the time allowed to start a claim is the Municipal Governments Act. This Act limits the time to only 6 months in many situations. For instance, wrongful payment to a city, discovered more than 6 months form the payment is barred from action.

Other section of this act limit the time to start an action to 60 days. Meaning you only have about 2 months to start a claim.

Laws That Increase Limitation Period Time

Similarly, to the above, some laws allow a longer time frame to begin your action. For example, the following below includes examples of situations that extend your time to commence a legal proceeding. Again, the following include only some of the exemptions. Always seek legal help form a lawyer.

Assault, Battery, Sexual Assault, Sexual Battery or Other Sexual Nature Misconduct

No limitations exist for starting actions for claims related to:

  • Sexual assault or sexual battery.
  • Various misconduct of a sexual nature, or any misconduct including other forms of assault or battery if the person with the claim was:
    • A minor
    • In an intimate relationship with the person causing the harm;
    • A dependent of the person causing the harm (physically, emotionally financially or otherwise dependent); or
    • Under disability.


Limitation periods extend if the person who wronged you fraudulently concealed the fact that the injury occurred. This suspends the time limit for as long as the concealment occurred.

By agreement In Contract

A right exists for parties to agree to extend limitation periods. For example, if you know of a claim but both parties agree to extend the time to file the claim, then the extension is allowable under the Act.

Adding New Parties To An Existing Action

While some limits exist for this extension, if you commence an action on time, but then learn of a third party who is also at fault, the time to add them may be extended. It is better to make these claims within the time frame. However, immediately discuss new third parties with your lawyer to see if a claim exists against them and / or if the ability to add them still exists.

Step To Take To Protect Action

Two main ways exist to protect your action. The first securing an agreement in writing to extend the limitation period. The second involved filing your claim. Once you file your claim, such as in Provincial Court or the Court of Queen’s Bench, a new time limit starts of one year in which to serve the claim on the defendant. Under some circumstances, the courts allow an extension of this period. Always try to make the application for an extension prior to the one year running out.

Hiring A Lawyer To Protect Your Action

Our litigation lawyers routinely protect clients from missing limitation periods. Calling a lawyer a day before the period expires is too late for action. Call our team at Kahane Law today to avoid losing your rights. Call us in Calgary or Edmonton respectively at 403-225-8810, or (780) 571-8463. Otherwise, by emailing us, you receive a faster response since we encourage include some basic details of your case. Email us directly here.